In 1934, thirty St. Paul neighbors, with the help of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society (MSHS), transformed their love of gardening into a tradition of service to the community. Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Cherokee Heights Garden Club is the oldest continuously operating garden club in Minnesota, inspiring generations. “Participation has continued on from members to their children and grandchildren,” says Secretary Rebecca Christopherson.
In collaboration with St. Paul Parks and Recreation, the award-winning club designed, plants and maintains the jewel-box garden with the dazzling view at the top of the Smith Avenue High Bridge. “When we’re working here in the summer, people stop by all the time and tell us how much they appreciate this garden,” President Susan Barker says. The club was recognized by the State of Minnesota “for exceptional contributions in helping rejuvenate the community environment and livability through grassroots initiatives using plants as a catalyst for change.
A club highlight is the annual flower show at Presbyterian Homes of Inver Grove Heights. Held in conjunction with the homes’ monthly birthday celebration, the delighted residents are the recipients of the floral arrangements. Gardens for special needs residential communities have been a focus of the club, including wheelchair-accessible, raised-bed gardens at Phoenix House and several revamped gardens for Dakota Children’s Homes. Individual members volunteer throughout the community, including at Neighborhood House on St. Paul’s West Side and at UMore Gardens in Rosemount. They have given funds to school garden projects, and have created memorial donations to the Arboretum and the MSHS.
“As we celebrate the past 75 years of the Cherokee Heights Garden Club, we look forward to bringing the skills and joys of gardening to new members and to our community well into the future,” says Susan Barker.. The Cherokee Heights Garden Club is planning to host a celebratory tea for members and friends on June 17, 2009 to recognize their contributions over the past 25 years at the High Bridge Community Garden site.
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